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Yesterday during his press conference describing strategy to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan, President Biden said, “And thank God, so far, knock on wood, we’re in a different position.” Interesting juxtaposition of phrases.

Side-stepping partisan politics or a critique of the Afghanistan debacle, let’s focus on the phrases.

Pres Biden uses the superstitious “knock on wood” phrase a lot, including back into his vice presidency. Pres Trump used the phrase as well. But again, the point here is not politics.

When celebrities are complimented on their success they regularly say, “I was lucky.” Really? Are they saying they have no talent, did not work hard, made no good decisions, are subject only to the "fates"? Somehow, unlike the rest of us unlucky woebegones, they lucked out?

Maybe, but more likely this is their way of being modest and avoiding any reference to religion.

What makes Pres Biden’s comment so interesting is his combination—thank God, knock on wood. To cover the bases, acknowledge some sort of supreme being but, just in case, tap into mythology too.

This is American religious culture in a nutshell.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Periodically, I hear someone claim the American Church is experiencing “persecution.” With due respect, I don’t use that term for the US because, frankly, while churches in the US have been harassed by government or other entities, and while perhaps someday genuine persecution will actually come to this country, it’s not now.
 
Meanwhile, persecution of the Church, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or religious minorities is rampant elsewhere in the world. Indeed, restrictions on religious freedom is now a global crisis, in autocratic and religiously dominated regimes and also in democratic countries.
 
Christians should defend and promote religious freedom, the “first freedom,” for all human beings, whatever their religion or no religion at all. It’s part of Love your neighbor as yourself.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

My recent SAT-7 USA blog, What I've Learned From Middle East Believers, listed a few lessons gleaned from eleven years of service, during which I've developed good friendships with believers from more than a dozen countries.
 
The USA is experiencing serious social and political unrest. Some are afraid for the future, not simply or necessarily due to the election of the Biden/Harris team but due to what they consider genuine anti-Christian trends in American culture. This involves suppression of speech online by Big Tech and in workplaces, especially the academy, as well as incursions on freedom of religion across the country. Some of this is rooted in government-instituted responses to COVID-19 in the name of public health, some of it is rooted in emerging and rapidly ascendant new woke or cancel culture.
 
As I say in this piece, "What God’s providence is for the future, I do not know. I do know that Americans can learn from our Middle Eastern and North African Christian friends on how to live out our faith in an unfriendly culture or government, how to be resilient in faith, and how to care for believers here and abroad as God continues to work His perfect will."
 
I salute my Middle Eastern and North African Christain friends. I believe we now need to learn what "Middle Eastern and North African believers have long since learned, the wisdom of 'Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation'" (Psalm 146:3).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Those of us who are religious, which is all of us in some way, and I am Christian, would do well to remember a few principles:
 
1 - Aligning our religious worldview with a given ideology (Left, Liberal, Conservative, Right), or a given political party, or a given political leader(s) immediately reduces the prophetic power of our faith to critique ideology, party, and politician. Such identification in Christian terms is called idolatry.
 
2 - Lawlessness or anarchy divides and destroys, and in Christian terms is never biblical.
 
3 - Politics is not the end-all-be-all of life, even in totalitarian regimes where suffering people resiliently maintain their secret faith. And politics does not dictate a culture's future in a democratic republic; actually, it's the other way around, so it is up to religious people to live out our faith in family and community. Christians and churches should lead the way, knowing "righteousness exalts a nation" and "it is God's will by doing good you should silence the foolish..."
 
4 - Remember, "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save."
 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Partisanship, not politics, is the real problem for the Church and Christians.

The Church expressing interest in what the State does, i.e. in politics, and offering perspective on moral values to guide political activities is essential. When this goes missing, States like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union show up.

Christians as individual can and should engage in politics. Think of the examples in Scripture like Joseph, Daniel, and Esther. They made a considerable impact in their day because the exercised their faith in the political arena. In contemporary parlance, they made a difference.

So, too, today. All countries need Christian engagement in their politics and those who suppress it are the worse for it. In free countries, Christians can engage in politics directly and openly. They can work as citizens to influence political policies or they can become politicians themselves.

So yes, politics matter. It’s just not the end-all-be-all of life and what matters most in life cannot be addressed via politics. 

Partisanship is a particular kind of political engagement. It’s the “strong and sometimes blind adherence to a particular party, faction, cause, or person.” Partisanship in American terms generally means a preference for, commitment to, or even emotional allegiance to being a Democrat or Republican, or perhaps one of a few assorted Third Parties.

Partisanship is not in itself morally threatening, particularly if it is not “blind” but simply a preference for or commitment to an approach to government or a set of principles in a political party platform.

Where partisanship becomes a problem, for the Christian and for the Church, is when it supersedes the faith or worldview. In other words, the filter through which each question or development or circumstance is evaluated is not one’s Christian perspective but one’s party allegiances and perceived advantage. When this happens, party positions or politics become ascendant, thus beyond critique or criticism. 

The danger should be obvious. If you are working with your partisan view and I am working with mine, we can debate but there is nothing outside our own party perspectives to which we can appeal for evaluation. We can only argue, never achieve consensus, and debate is then not about truth but power and advantage.

The American Church is today divided, of course theologically in a variety of historical denominational ways, but of equal importance and impact now is a division rooted in partisanship. There are Red churches and Blue churches. There are, if we switch to ideology, Left churches and Right churches. What’s minimized, maybe lost, is the struggle to develop a Christian worldview and apply it in this age to all issues and developments--including partisanship. 

The Christian Church is encouraged to unity, but partisanship divides. It is today not just a tool but a threat.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

God is at work fighting for all manner of issues, interests, and people groups. At least that’s what you’d conclude listening to people’s assertions on the nightly news. God is on our side, so it is said, and not on the side of others, especially our opponents.

It sounds great, doesn’t it? If God is fighting for us we must be right. We must own the higher ground. And we will win in the end. We’re more righteous than thou and we’re justified in everything that we do.

But I’m not so sure this is a biblical point of view, which is to say, making such claims is not always good theology.

Let’s think about this:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2014

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com.